Whether the army would be prepared to move upon the Bay
on the 18th of March depended upon the state of readiness of the transports, the entire control of which had been placed by the Secretary of War
in the hands of one of the assistant secretaries
Unless his arrangements had been completed on or before that day, the army could not have moved.
But the record of the important events of the 8th of March is not completed; for on that day the Merrimac
appeared in Hampton Roads
and destroyed the Cumberland
and Congress, and the news, flashed far and wide by the telegraph-wires, filled the whole land with consternation and dismay.
But our spirits rose the next day at the opportune arrival and gallant and successful achievement of the Monitor
It is needless to dwell upon the memorable contest between these two vessels, so important in its effects upon the whole science of naval warfare; but it was an event of no inconsiderable moment in the fate and fortunes of the Peninsular campaign
The power of the Monitor
had been so satisfactorily demonstrated, and the other naval preparations were so extensive and formidable, that the security of Fortress Monroe
as a base of operations was placed beyond a doubt; but, on the other hand, the presence of the Merrimac
in the James River
closed that river to us, and threw us upon the York River
, with its tributaries, as our only line of water-communication with the fortress.
The general plan, therefore, remained undisturbed,